The first Image

Centre Régional d'Art Contemporain Languedoc Roussilon, Sète, (C.R.A.C.)

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The First Image
An exhibition curated by Denys Zacharopoulos


Antoinetta Angelidi Katerina Apostolidou Alexandros Avranas Apostolos Georgiou Christina Dimitriadi Constantinos Giannaris George Hadjimichalis

Maria Klonaris-KaterinaThomadaki

Nikos Navridis Maria Papadimitriou Ilias Papailiakis

Leda Papaconstantinou Eftihis Patsourakis Georgia Sagri

Yorgos Sapountzis Eva Stefani Vassiliea Stylianidou

Evanthia Tsantila Stefanos Tsivopoulos Dimitris Tsoumplekas Alexandros Tzannis

Vangelis Vlahos Katerina Zacharopoulou Maria Zervou

From the 10th of July until the 27 of September.

In November the exhibition will be presented at The Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Arts to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the museum in collaboration with the 50th Film Festival in Thessaloniki.

The C.R.A.C. in Sète is the initiator of this exhibition. Every summer, during the High Season of this most exquisite villegiatura, a big exhibition claims the attention on the Mediterranean art and culture. This year it is Greece that will be at honor and therefore they commissioned the exhibition to Denys Zacharopoulos who, after thirty years carrier as an art historian, curator and director of major institutions in France, is the artistic director of the first Museum of Contemporary art in Greece, the Macedonian one in Thessaloniki.

In order to present a Mediterranean and Greek selection in the present situation of the art and the culture in Greek reality a long study was necessary in order to avoid a too general or a too folkloristic issue. The result concluded with this exhibition the following interpretative lines. The show presents 12 men and 12 women artists, half of which is born after the seventies and concentrates a dispersion of outstanding artists living and working in various European places, most of which have never exhibited in France. The other half is mostly presenting some exceptional figures that prepared the field for such a self critical and nonconventional dispersion and have contribute in an international and European making of a highly sensitive and critical art which relates to memory and to the human position in the world, developing at the same time a strong relation to form and language but also keeping deliberately a profile distant from the market and low with the media.

The prominent question concerning the identity issue of the process has taken as a central point of the conception of the exhibition and of the artist's selection, the relation to the narrative. The selected artists build two separate groups: one relating to a continuous narrative that correspond mostly to a film structure (which concerns mostly the women artists invited) and a second, confronting a discontinuous placement of fragmentary objects in space (which concerns mainly the men artists in the show). The first group will present film projection outdoor every night while the second exhibits paintings, installations, objects at the indoor spaces of CRAC during the day. If these two groups seem to claim directly a gender issue, they relate merely in the context of the show to a social identification of the role of women and men and not to any "biological" differences. The separation line is a cultural and political one and has its origin in the particular distribution of roles and functions family provides in Greek society. This relates mainly to the management of the discourse on reality and to the manipulation and control of memory. It is to be considered in the lights of the strong separation in social life between inside and outside space, interior and exterior worlds, open and closed structures.

The artist's works here present various aspects of separate or linked series of information or set of experiences as images either in continuous motion or in discontinuous displacements. This is the main concept and the working principle of the exhibition. It consists also to propose an aware contemporary Greek Mediterranean profile for the artists, reconsidering and even denouncing the role of men and women in everyday life and especially in the relation they develop to memory as it relates to one's self and to the reality of the other. During the process of research the two sources of the image, as painting and as cinema, as a mute and as a talking one, a still and a moving one, gave a quite unexpected field for developments that allowed more sense from what could be expected initially throughout this kind of perspectives. A lot of different openings are offered to read in a more plural and multiple ways habits and works, and the relation between the two.

At the end, the separation of the roles of the man and the women appeared in the most clear expression in one of the most concise and conclusive novel of a major Greek writer, internationally known and translated, Costas Taktsis, the title of which it is also the title of the exhibition. Costas Taktsis died by a violent death in conditions that still unexplained, twenty years ago. His two major books, "The Third Crown" (1961) and its complement or as it is called "The left over" (1972 ) were published in many languages (in French by Gallimard Editions. 1974 and 1987). Tough the conception of the exhibition did not started from Taktsis' text and it is not an illustration of it. Once the intellectual perspective, the artists' selection, the working method, the presentation modalities and the curatorial concept established, Taktis' text appeared after a long unconscious maturation, to jump all of a sudden on the surface as pertinent and accurate evidence. The "First Image" is the last chapter or the last novel of the "Left Over". The ambiguity between fragment or totality has been kept deliberately as an open questioning by the author him self concerning the relation between the parts or the separate entities to be taken as a continuous discourse or as a discontinuous reality. The entire Taktsis text is reproduce in the catalogue and says both, in the way it approaches the subject matter as and in the manner it questions the formal issues of language and reality, memory and narration, image and icon, the best it could ever be said about the question raised here. It appeared as often it happens to the participants of the show as a kind of underground flux, as an unbounded experience to the discussion about art, but as a personal base for most of the artists to situate still thirty years latter such a self critical question and process.

The questions the Thessaloniki Film Festival addresses as a way to celebrate half a century existence (which coincides also with the thirtieth anniversary of the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Arts), are quoted in a sentence of an other similar in a way figure and a child of the Southern Europe, Jean Renoir. The quotation from his writings gives a perfect context to confront the "love of reality as a tale" and "the hate of it as a veil that separates them selves of the reality of the things". This two kinds of images oblige the artists tat want to keep the cinema alive "to reinvent everyday every simple thing from the beginning". This kind of claim that tends to transform the "original "First Image into a everyday reinvention of it is the happy end this 24 hour or 24 persons that meet in Sète propose or consider. A dozen of men and a dozen of women, or a half of open and a half of closed space, a half of day and a half of night, a have of interiority and a half of exterior space, a half of continuity and a half of fragmentation come together inside and outside the art center, develop projections and condense icons, but not in order to reinforce a definite state of things. On the contrary they cultivate techniques of doubt and practices of mistrust in order to reinvent every day anew the necessary sense, which prevents us from prejudice and the sclerosis of the human soul.

A catalogue in the form of a book completes the exhibition with the extensive presentation of the works in the exhibition, including artist's statements, biographies, the connection to Taktsi's "First Image" and an essay by Denys Zacharopoulos.